Credit card welcome bonuses are a great way to earn a lump sum of cash back, points, or miles from your credit card issuer, but they often come with high minimum spend requirements. If you want to cash out a big welcome bonus, you’ll have to be prepared to pay the price.
Sign-up bonuses can be of great value as long as you set yourself up for success. Make sure you know the requirements and deadlines for earning the bonus, so you can hit your minimum spend and get the most out of your new card.
What to consider before applying for a credit card with a sign-up bonus
Sign-up bonuses come in many forms. Even though the numbers may seem similar at first glance, different rewards programs offer different redemption offers. For example, a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points is worth less than a sign-up bonus of 100,000 World of Hyatt points. When browsing credit cards and various sign-up bonuses, be realistic about the minimum spend amount you can and cannot meet.
To earn the bonus, new cardholders usually need to spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of opening their account. If you’re considering applying for a new credit card, it’s important to know how much you’ll need to spend and how long you’ll have to meet the minimum spending requirements. If you exceed the spending threshold by even one dollar, you will not have another opportunity to earn the welcome bonus.
Consider the spend threshold
The credit card issuer will set a spending threshold that you must reach on your new credit card within the first few months of card membership in order to earn the bonus. For example, you might be offered 40,000 points for spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening a new account.
When applying for a new credit card, make sure you are comfortable meeting the minimum spend requirement before applying. If you’re not sure if the spending threshold is achievable, it’s probably not a good idea.
Make a plan to reach your sign-up bonus
If you don’t already have a plan to meet your minimum spending requirements, you should make one. Figure out how much you need to spend each month to get the sign-up bonus and keep an eye on your transaction history each month to make sure you’re on the right track. There’s no shame in going about it the old-fashioned way. Get out a sheet of paper and a pen if necessary.
Keep two things in mind: the countdown begins the day your card application is approved, and any charges other than spending transactions will not count towards your spending needs. So remember that your annual fee, balance transfer fee, and interest charges are not factored into the mix. For example, if your card has a Global Entry refund and you get a $100 credit, the $100 you spent on Global Entry will not count towards your minimum spend.
6 ways to reach your minimum spend and earn your welcome bonus
1. Use your new credit card for all your purchases
Once you receive your new card in the mail, be sure to use it for all your purchases. This includes everything from your weekly grocery run to your trip to the theater. The more you use your credit card, the faster you will reach your spending threshold. However, don’t get in over your head. Make sure you can meet your monthly payments so you don’t have to pay interest.
2. Match your requests with major expenses
You can earn your sign-up bonus quickly by timing your credit card applications to coincide with major purchases, such as home or auto repairs, vacation purchases, and any other larger expenses on your radar. If you’re planning a big purchase in the next few months and have a good credit score, this is a great chance to earn a welcome bonus.
3. Prepay expenses
If you can get ahead of the game by prepaying for services like your car insurance policy, you might earn your bonus out of convenience. This route won’t be accessible to everyone, but it’s a good option if you’re about to do some spring cleaning when it comes to annual bills. Even paying for your annual Amazon Prime subscription will help you meet your minimum spend.
4. Pay the bill for someone else
If you tend to split your monthly expenses with a partner, you might earn your bonus faster by paying all shared expenses like groceries, gas, and car insurance on the new card. Alternatively, you can pay for a group trip and earn your bonus all at once. Just ask your friends to pay you back later, and then you can take care of the hotel or rental car ahead of time.
5. Pay the rent
It is possible to pay your rent with a credit card, although it may not be the easiest way to get a sign-up bonus. If your landlord doesn’t accept credit card payments, you can pay your rent on credit through a third-party payment service. For a convenience fee (usually 2-3%), services like Plastiq will process your payment and send your landlord a check or electronic payment.
6. Buy gift cards
Buying gift cards is another great way to meet your minimum spending requirements. If you buy gift cards at a grocery store or gas station, you can also earn rewards on your purchases. However, be sure to only buy gift cards that you will use, as you don’t want to miss the value. Also, remember that shopping ahead for gifts is also a great way to help you meet your minimum spend. Regardless of the month, you can start your holiday shopping or buy birthday gifts for your family and friends for an entire year in one go.
The bottom line
There are a handful of things to consider before applying for a credit card with a sign-up bonus, including the minimum spending requirement, the time frame to complete the spending requirement, and the bonus terms and conditions. However, if you are strategic about it, earning a credit card sign-up bonus is a great way to get rewards.